These days, Paris Fashion Week goes much deeper than simply style-conscious consumers learning what they’ll be wearing next season. It’s an annual opportunity for brands to discover the next big omnichannel customer experience trends.
As the world’s leading labels, from Balenciaga to Yves Saint Laurent, prepare to parade their spring/summer 2019 collections across Parisian runways, all eyes will be looking for innovation. With 76 shows scheduled between September 24 and October 2, brands will have to do everything within their power, to stand out and make sure they put on an event to remember.
However, these fashion brands must do so within the confines and heritage of their brand – Burberry wouldn’t be Burberry without its iconic check and if Louis Vuitton decided to ditch purses, the online uproar could break the internet.
Which is why, along with pencil skirts, column gowns and trench coats, the world of haute couture has become a pioneer in the use of social media channels. And, as with mass-market clothing chains, where these labels lead, all consumer-facing brands will follow.
For example, Burberry has leveraged user-generated content from social channels since 2009 to help communicate its brand and ethos to the next generation. Today, it’s common practice, even in the tourism and hospitality sector where mass market hotel chains like Hyatt curate guests’ Instagram moments to build their own interactive content.
Likewise, when Burberry livestreamed its 2010 show direct to fans’ phones, the industry was in shock. Today, everyone from Mercedes to McDonald’s not only let fans follow live announcements via Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, they also have dedicated YouTube channels allowing for two-way interactions with consumers.
“What makes Burberry a true digital pioneer is that it hasn’t simply used social channels for self-promotion,” said Mike Small, Chief Client Officer for Sitel Group U.S. “Instead it creates a dialogue between the brand and its customers. More importantly, the company has aligned social as part of a clear omnichannel business strategy. You can shop via Instagram, Twitter, via the company’s website or in store – but are guaranteed the same levels of service and the same emotional experience, no matter how you choose to take your customer journey.”
But it’s not just Burberry; the wider industry is packed full of shining examples of how to leverage channels, build brands and strengthen relationships to boost CX.
Only Hollywood is better than a fashion brand at narrative. Every major label has perfected the art of telling their brand story and understanding where that story intersects with their customers’ own narratives.
“Being where your customers are at the moment when they want you most is a key attribute of next-level CX,” Small says. “This is only possible because these brands understand the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of their business – why it’s important to customers and how these people want to engage.”
Whether it’s directly user generated, or copy crafted by professionals, fashion brands know how to integrate content and commerce. Marketing and commercial teams work together, rather than in silos, so there is a single message. Thus, the experience of discovering an item via one channel and buying it via another is seamless. This also ensures a free flow of data and therefore business intelligence throughout the enterprise.
“Without a unified message and a unified view of the customer, a brand will never be able to understand customer sentiment or be able to fully meet customer needs,” states Small.
The major labels were the first to realize that ambassadors and influencers can live online and that Instagram and Snapchat feeds are the 21st century equivalent of a glossy style magazine. These brands also know how to activate and engage their most powerful customers, be it through preferential treatment, access to VIP shows or even bespoke garments.
“Identifying and rewarding your most influential customers will enhance loyalty,” Small says. “But more so, they can be activated to create a positive buzz around your products, to generate content that engages with target audiences and that can mitigate less than positive chatter. It’s one of the areas in which our Digital CX Agency, TSC has built its reputation for unlocking the value of conversational business.”
From suits to sunglasses, fashion brands have been enabling personalized service and co-creation for decades; this, in turn, guarantees that a customer goes on a truly unique path to purchase. What’s more, enabling customers to co-create is more effective at building loyalty than any number of traditional loyalty programs.
“Other brands are finally discovering that they too can put the customer at the heart of the business,” Small explains. “Take online communities, for example, they are a way of involving a brand’s biggest fans in the research and development and testing of new products and services and of identifying your top influencers and ambassadors.”
However, if Paris Fashion Week inspires you and your CX strategy, it’s not wise to give your business an extreme makeover without professional help. For over 30 years, Sitel Group has partnered with organizations of all sizes across a host of verticals that all have one thing in common –a desire to get closer to their customers. From next-level data analytics or building effective online communities to supporting the move to omnichannel service and realizing business transformation roadmaps, to helping businesses expand their customer service in line with growth without sacrificing quality – we offer a platform of solutions that are always in style, no matter how fashions change.